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North Shore school budget passes; incumbent trustees win in landslide

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The annual school budget vote and trustee election kept the North Shore community on its toes until the polls closed at 10 p.m. Tuesday night. District Clerk Betty Ciampi read the results of the two propositions included on this year’s ballot, both of which passed.

More than 1,300 residents voted to approve the board’s $107.8 million 2019-20 budget, which is 2.8 percent larger than the current spending plan. Community members also voted in favor of reducing the district’s transportation for students in grades six to 12 from the current one-mile limit to a three-quarter-mile limit. The change will take effect in September, and is intended to increase ridership at no additional cost to the district.

“I feel that we put together a responsible spending plan for the district and stayed true to our strategic plan,” Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo said. “We have some very key program and staffing adds that will support the social-emotional learning of all kids, move our work in equity and diversity forward and keep our instructional program on the cutting edge.”

Highlights of next year’s budget include electives in gaming, building and robotics at the high school, a journalism/writing elective at the middle school, programs to enhance social-emotional learning at the elementary level, safety and security upgrades districtwide and an integrated co-teaching model to reinforce learning for special-education students.

Three out of the five candidates for trustee were on hand as election results rolled in, and school board incumbents Sara Jones, of Sea Cliff, David Ludmar, of Glenwood Landing, and Marianne Russo, of Glen Head, were victorious. Challengers Jerry Romano and Anthony Stanco, both from Sea Cliff, were defeated by a wide margin.

“I am really thrilled to see the support of the community in this vote,” said Jones, who was elected to a third term, “and I think we saw the confidence that they have in the people on the board now.”

Russo, who also won a third term, said she looked forward to continuing to work on the district’s upcoming bond referendum, and implementing curriculum that keeps the schools current and improves the quality of students’ education.

The tax-neutral bond, if approved, would fund the continued enhancement of safety and security upgrades, infrastructure improvements and the potential redesign of learning spaces in all five district schools. A final plan is slated to be presented to residents for a vote in November.

“The work that we have to do in thinking about and considering the bond and communicating with the community about what they want is going to be critically important,” Jones said.

Ludmar was elected to a second term. Over the past three years, he has partnered with Jones and Russo on a variety of committees, and he said he was excited to continue work on projects that benefit the district.

“Despite the fact that the kids are wrapping up their year,” Ludmar said, “the work of the district never stops.”

Giarrizzo thanked voters for supporting the budget. “I think a North Shore education is a very special one,” he said, “and I’m glad that our community has come out to signal that they agree with us and support the plan that we’ve put in place.”